Remedial massage is the combination of massage techniques and stretching / mobilising techniques aimed at loosening tight, painful muscles and joints.
When muscles become knotted and tense or damaged, remedial massage provides a healing treatment that can be gentle or strong, deep or shallow. Remedial massage holistically treats the body. The massage therapist endeavours to identify the original biomechanical dysfunction, thus healing the cause of the disorder, as well as the symptoms.
Remedial massage uses several specialised techniques to locate and repair damage to muscles, tendons and joints. Massage therapy supports and speeds up the body’s own repair mechanisms. A lubricating medium (usually oil) is applied directly on the skin. This ensures that the muscles associated with the disorder are deeply penetrated. Passive joint stretching moves are also used.
Key benefits of remedial massage include:
- the stimulation to the blood supply allowing toxins in the muscles to be removed
- the calming of the peripheral nervous system to ease pain and
- and the toning and relaxing of muscles to improve joint mobility.
An improvement to the health of the cells, the repairing of tissues, and the easing of stiffness and tension can also be experienced through therapeutic relaxation. Muscular and skeletal dysfunctions often addressed with remedial massage include muscle tightness and pain, arthritis, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, whiplash, neck and back pain, scoliosis, headaches and sports injuries.
What is Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy?
Myofascial trigger points are the most common cause of tight, aching and weak muscles. Healthy muscles don’t have trigger points in them. You develop them by overloading muscles (e.g. heavy lifting), quick jerk (e.g. whiplash), frequent lifting (e.g. kids), tensing muscles (e.g. stress), postural stress (e.g. desk work), or by fatiguing muscles (e.g. scrubbing / cleaning).
Once a muscle develops trigger points, they will stay there indefinitely until treatment eradicates them. If you don’t ‘annoy’ trigger points you’ll mainly feel stiff and possibly tired in the muscle. If you annoy trigger points, they refer the classic ache. In the early days, the pain comes and goes. As time goes on, the aches often become more frequent and more painful.
Remedial massage frequently gets rid of trigger points. If the ‘knots’ are stubborn, massage ‘calms’ the trigger point pain and stiffness but doesn’t actually get rid of the trigger point. This may be enough relief for the patient but if not, the best method of getting rid of stubborn trigger points is dry needling of the trigger point.
There are many styles of dry needling, but the most effective by far is the ‘Travell and Simons’ method which actually eradicates the trigger point. This needs a skilled practitioner, experienced with myofascial pain syndromes.
Philip Warne has over twenty-seven years experience working at CBSMC and specialises in the treatment of myofascial pain syndromes. He has lectured at the Geelong Hospital and presented to the Geelong GP Association.
He currently receives referrals from over 50 local doctors, paediatricians, ear/nose/throat specialists and cardiologists for the management of chronic and complex myofascial pain syndromes.